March 13, 2012 2:45:04 PM
STARKVILLE -- "A slam dunk"
These are the words Mississippi State University Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin used to describe the school's new women's basketball head coaching hire Vic Schaefer. The 51-year-old was introduced as the Lady Bulldogs seventh coach in program history during a Tuesday afternoon press conference in the Bryan Athletic Building on the MSU campus.
Stricklin also said Schaefer has the work ethic, the intensity, the intelligence, and the ability to sell MSU and the state of Mississippi going forward.
"We tend to focus on labels, but we focus on those four qualities, and that's why we think Vic Schaefer is a slam dunk," Stricklin said.
Stricklin said Schaefer was given a four-year contract and will be paid $275,000 per year plus incentives.
"He is a great coach who is reknown for the way he teaches and the way his teams play defense," Stricklin said. "He is lauded for being a nationally ranked recruiter and for being active in his community and for lending time to charities and to civic groups."
Schaefer is replacing Sharon Fanning-Otis less than a month after she announced her intent to retire from her current position at the close of the 2011-12 season. Fanning-Otis is the all-time winningest women's basketball coach in MSU history with 281 victories, becoming just the 14th Division I head women's basketball coach to amass 600 career wins earlier this past season.
"The state of Mississippi has some really good players," said Schaefer, who has helped sign nine top-20 recruiting classes as a coach at Arkansas and Texas A&M. "The bottom line is you have to do a good job in this state."
Schaefer, 51, who worked as a head coach at Sam Houston State from 1990-97, has spent the past 15 years as an assistant coach to Gary Blair at the University of Arkansas and at Texas A&M. Last season, Texas A&M won its first national championship. Schaefer was joined in the announcement by his wife Holly, a former coach at the University of Texas at Arlington and their two twin 16-year-old children, Blair Nicole and Charles Logan.
"I can't tell you how excited my family and I are today," Schaefer said. "God opens doors to you and you don't know what is fixin' to open. From the moment I met Scott, I felt his passion for something, and I can only tell you I identify with that because I am a passionate person. From the moment I met him, I knew his passion for this place."
Schaefer will coach with A&M in this year's NCAA Tournament as the No. 22 Aggies (22-10) received a 3-seed as they attempt to defend their national championship after losing Saturday to top-ranked Baylor in the Big 12 Conference Tournament final.
The Aggies captured the program's first national title in its first-ever trip to the NCAA Women's Final Four last season. A&M earned a program-best No. 1 ranking in the national polls, a school-record sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and closed out the year with a 33-5 record, marking the most victories in program history.
This time still on the A&M staff will force Schaefer to pull double duty in coaching A&M on the floor while trying to slowly put his staff together for next season with the Lady Bulldogs program.
"I am not going to rush it. I am going to hire a great staff," said Schaefer. "We have to figure out a way to close down the borders in this state."
MSU completed the 2011-12 season with a 14-16 record and has finished under .500 in the two seasons after the school made it the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. Local vampire film to debut in Columbus ENTERTAINMENT
4. Art Walk Downtown returns to Columbus Thursday ENTERTAINMENT
5. Final prep underway for free open-air play at MSU ENTERTAINMENT